Council's Annual Report 2022-2023

Well-being Objective 3

Enabling our communities and environment to be healthy, safe and prosperous (Prosperous Communities)

Overarching judgement

We want to enable our communities and environment to be healthy, safe, and prosperous.

  • There are positive signs emerging from the local economy, but some challenges remain.
  • Whilst we have significant Environmental challenges to address, significant early progress has been made and innovative work to develop carbon trajectories will assist us in targeting activity to meet the more challenging carbon reduction targets.
  • We have made significant improvement to waste recycling as a result of service changes.

Why this is important

  • Providing secure and well-paid jobs for local people is crucial and increasing employability is fundamental to tackling poverty and reducing inequalities. This has a dramatic impact on our health and ability to function in everyday society.
  • Carmarthenshire has a high economic inactivity rate. This is a significant barrier to growth for Carmarthenshire, as the economically inactive represent a significant source of labour supply which is a crucial element of a well-functioning labour market. This is also concerning given that being inactive for a long period of time can negatively impact a person’s well-being, health and life-satisfaction.
  • A barrier to employment for many is a lack of qualifications or skills. This applies to those that have no qualifications at all and those that wish to re-skill or up-skill to better themselves and seek higher level or alternative employment. This is a pertinent issue for Carmarthenshire, as the County exhibits a higher-than-average number of people with no qualifications and a lower proportion than average of people with higher level qualifications.
  • Areas of the County are susceptible to the negative effects of the climate emergency, especially flooding. Just over 15,000 properties in the County are currently at some level of flood risk. Climate change will increase the number of properties, infrastructure and key services at risk of flooding. Places which do not currently flood will become at risk of flooding and those already known to be at risk will see the level of that risk become greater.
  • The County remains a key strategic stronghold for the future of the Welsh language and the social and economic benefits of bilingualism are widely recognised. Evidence gathered via the residents’ survey indicates that overall respondents agreed that it is important that the Welsh language is promoted and protected.
  • Transportation & highways play a key role in supporting and sustaining our communities, it provides the vital infrastructure which connects people to one another, binds communities and enables businesses to grow and expand.

OUTCOME: Businesses supported and employment provided.

PROGRESS: 1,237 businesses supported and 1,350 direct jobs created via Carmarthenshire Rural Enterprise Fund, Property development Fund, Pendine attractor, Llandeilo Market Hall, Ammanford Regeneration development fund, CRF - Towns and Growth, Carmarthen Town Regeneration Activity, Ammanford Town Regeneration Activity, Parry Thomas centre, C4W+/C4w+ YPG, RLSP, Workways/STU, CRF - Iaith Gwaith, BREF, Transforming Towns, Progressive Procurement, Business growth & Start Up, targeted business Engagement, CRF Business Llanelli.

OUTCOME: People are supported to take advantage of local opportunities whether it be through starting a business, gaining qualifications or gaining meaningful employment.

PROGRESS: 14 individuals supported to establish a new business under the Business Start Up fund and 619 individuals have been helped into employment via C4W+ C4W YPG, Workways / STU and linked activity with Job Centre Plus. Through the employability programmes within Carmarthenshire 463 individuals have been supported into meaningful employment, with Workway+ working with people with multiple barriers.

OUTCOME: Businesses are supported to take advantage of local supply chains and procurement opportunities.

PROGRESS: 303 businesses have received support under the Progressive Procurement Initiative. In addition, funding has been secured under the Shared Prosperity Fund to deliver a business engagement project to promote the Think Carmarthenshire First approach to encourage spend within County development of Carmarthenshire inter-trading – linking businesses to each other to support local supply chains. Progressive procurement initiative within Carmarthenshire to increase local spend.
As part of Procurements engagement with suppliers for our tendering activity in 2022-23: 28 suppliers were met with on a 1-2-1 basis; 4 Early Market Engagement Events were held with 151 attendees; 6 Live Tender Workshops/Webinars were held with 125 attendees; 9 Tender Briefing Sessions attendees 434; 2 Getting Tender Ready Events, 67 attendees; 3 Consortia/Joint Bidding Events, attendees 101.

OUTCOME: People feel empowered to lead active and healthy lives through access to fit for purpose services and provision

PROGRESS: We have re-established public confidence in engaging in exercise, with attendances returning to pre-pandemic levels (over 100,000 pcm) by the end of the year. This included demonstrating exemplary health & safety standards by winning RoSPA’s international ‘Leisure Trophy’ award.
Over £300k of additional external funding leveraged to increase and broaden the activity programmes available, from free swim lessons for children living in deprivation and 61,000 participations in our ‘couch to 2km’ schools programme, to Actif legacy for youths, to walking sports and pre-diabetes activity for adults, to ‘curling and a cuppa’ for older adults to Beat the Street for the whole community of Llanelli that engaged almost 7,000 of the town’s population who actively travelled over 43,000 miles over 6 weeks and created a step-change in people’s activity levels.
Particular improvements made to the welcome areas at Carmarthen and Amman Valley Leisure Centres, further digitalising access to enable customer service staff to have additional capacity to improve customer interaction. Digitalisation Across Actif Sport & Leisure also progressed in terms of functionality and popularity of Actif App, doubling the number of App downloads compared to 2021-22 (downloaded by 46,000 people) with an average of 230,000 module uses / 28,000 transactions per month (70% of all transactions).
Average reach across all digital platforms (web/social media/app) of 406,000 per month.
Enhancing sustainability/active travel by installing and activating car and e-bike parking and charging points at various leisure centres and taking activity to communities via our Actif van and establishing activity programmes in 3 community halls in Cwmaman, Kidwelly and Whitland. Amman Valley Leisure Centre/Ysgol Dyffryn Aman astroturf resurfaced, with brand new 3G pitch and synthetic track installation to commence imminently.

OUTCOME: On track to meet the national recycling targets.

PROGRESS: This year we have exceeded the statutory target with a performance of 65.25% which is currently being verified by NRW before official recycling rates are released for 2022/2023 nationally. Following the changes, the recycling performance in Q4 has significantly improved from last year from 2022 Q4 - 60.03% to 2023 Q4 - 67.69%.

OUTCOME: Continue to work towards becoming a Net Zero Carbon Local Authority by 2030.

PROGRESS: The Council demonstrates a strong organisational commitment to carbon reduction and was the first local authority in Wales to publish net zero action plan and has reported annually against the plan. In the absence of guidance on a cost model the plan and annual updates have not indicated the total cost of the plan to meet the Council’s net zero objective. In 2023 the council has developed methodology for estimating the cost of meeting the Council’s net zero target by 2030. The model requires further refinement to provide consistency of approach across local authorities in Wales. The authority is pressing the Welsh Government for guidance while working with partners in the SBCR to develop the model. 

OUTCOME: look to improve the availability and affordability of early years education and childcare settings across the county, to address one of the common barriers faced by individuals looking to return to, or find employment.

PROGRESS: 30 hours Childcare Offer National Digital Service - promotion and support has continued to ensure eligible parents and childcare providers are familiar with the process. 522 parent applications were received and processed between 1st January to 31st March 2023 and 149 childcare providers have completed their on-line registration. Just under £1.7M has been paid to local childcare providers in Carmarthenshire to eligible children during the year (1st April 2022 – 28th February 2023).

Our most recent Childcare Sufficiency Assessment 2022-27, which was submitted to Welsh Government in June 2022, did not indicate any quantitative or qualitative sufficiency pressures for Foundation Learning funded 3-year-old places within approved Childcare settings across Carmarthenshire. Several approved Childcare Providers reported having vacant places in Autumn 2021 which would suggest we had surplus places in certain locations throughout Carmarthenshire.

OUTCOME: Look to improve access to services through enhanced transportation networks and infrastructure.

PROGRESS: The aspiration for modal shift has influenced our investment in infrastructure particularly around our major population centres where we have built new infrastructure to support more sustainable travel journeys

OUTCOME: Improve current and explore new developments to limit the effects of flooding and other environmental threats which affect our residents and service users.

PROGRESS: We have delivered 12 schemes within our capital works programme, 4 of these schemes are estimated to deliver flood reduction benefit to 112 residential and 13 business properties.
We utilise telemetry at some of our assets, affording us live data on river levels at high-risk area. It is hoped that this will better inform our operational response, allowing us to target areas at greatest risk.
We are in the process of developing our Flood Risk Management Plan 2024-2030 which will set out our FCERM# priorities over the next 7 years.
#National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management

OUTCOME: Sustain low crime rates whilst continuing effective partnership working to address increasing rates evident in some areas of the county.

PROGRESS: Low crime rates have been sustained through effective partnership working. There has been a slight increase in the number of crimes reported in 2022/23 – 16,381 – which is 3% (497) higher than the previous year. However, the county remains one of the safest areas in the UK and Dyfed-Powys the safest Police Force area in England and Wales with the lowest crime rates.

OUTCOME: Increase in the number of Welsh speakers.

PROGRESS:  The latest Census data for 2021 indicates that Carmarthenshire is home to 72,838 Welsh speakers. This translates to 39.9% of the county’s total population. This figure has decreased by 5,210 since the last Census in 2011, which translates to a percentage point decrease of 4.0. This is the largest percentage point decrease of all local authorities in Wales.

OUTCOME: Increased confidence and use of Welsh as a thriving language.

PROGRESS: The number of people able to speak, read and write Welsh in the county has decreased by 1.9 percentage points or 1,828 people. This is a considerably lower decrease than the figures for those only able to speak Welsh.

As a Council we focus on the following thematic and service priorities:

  • WBO3a Thematic Priority: Economic Recovery and Growth
  • WBO3b Thematic Priority: Decarbonisation and Nature Emergency
  • WBO3c Thematic Priority: Welsh Language and Culture
  • WBO3d Thematic Priority: Community Safety, Resilience, and Cohesion
  • WBO3e Service Priority: Leisure and Tourism
  • WBO3f Service Priority: Waste
  • WBO3g Service Priority: Highways and Transport

Why this is important?

The strength of our local economy is central to our communities’ wider well-being and going forward we will focus our regeneration efforts on developing our businesses, people and places. In our future plans we will enable Carmarthenshire to become more productive whilst being more equal, greener and healthier and supporting business and community resilience and growth.

Providing secure and well-paid jobs is central to everything we are seeking to achieve.

Increasing employability is fundamental to tackling poverty and the cost of living reducing inequalities and has a dramatic impact on our health and ability to function in everyday society.

We need to build a knowledge rich, creative economy by maximising employment and training places for local people through creating jobs and providing high quality apprenticeships, training and work experience opportunities, to have an ongoing skilled and competent workforce to face the future.

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

There are positive signs emerging from the local economy, but some challenges remain.

Building upon the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), we have secured and are delivering the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) in Carmarthenshire. The £38.68m fund will help to deliver against some of Carmarthenshire’s key strategic objectives. The Shared Prosperity Fund will provide new opportunities for local communities, support the development and growth of local businesses as well as supporting the recovery of our town centres and is a mix of revenue and capital funding that can be used to support a wide range of interventions to build pride in place and improve life chances. We’ve also launched the second phase of the £11 million ARFOR Programme, which aims to deliver an economic boost and strengthen the Welsh language across counties Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Anglesey.

In addition, significant regeneration capital schemes have been delivered, most notably, the redevelopment of Llandeilo Market Hall and the Pendine Tourism Attractor Project. Both projects illustrate the Authorities ambition to invest in infrastructure which will stimulate and support the local economy.

Whilst positive, the County continues to face challenges:

  • Positively, unemployment rates are falling, and employment rates are increasing. However, the County still exhibits a higher-than-average level of people (aged 16-64) who are economically inactive. This can restrict labour supply and stunt economic growth.
  • Carmarthenshire continues to lag behind national averages with regards to the proportion qualified to level 4 or above. Developing skills and qualifications improves employability and career prospects and creates a well-skilled and able labour market.
  • Continue to exhibit a significant and persistent productivity gap with the rest of the UK.
    Reliance on micro and small businesses, coupled with relatively high employment in the public sector which can make the economy more susceptible to threats.
  • The cost-of-living crisis fuelled by the significant increase in inflation and energy prices is having an impact on businesses. As such business support grants through the Shared Prosperity Fund have been introduced to assist businesses and stimulate growth.

For progress and data on this thematic priority see pages 81-96 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?

Why this is important?

  • The Natural Environment is a core component of sustainable development. The Council has already declared its commitment to addressing the climate and nature emergencies and will continue on its route towards becoming a Net Zero Carbon Local Authority by 2030 and addressing the issues that are driving a decline in our biodiversity and support nature recovery.
  • Route Towards becoming a Net Zero Carbon Local Authority by 2030
  • A biodiverse natural environment, with healthy functioning ecosystems, supports social, economic and ecological resilience. Carmarthenshire’s natural environment is the natural resource on which much of our economy is based – tourism, farming, forestry, and renewable energy. It is a major factor that attracts people, both young and older to live, work and visit the county, bringing inward investment with them.
  • The conservation and enhancement of biodiversity is vital in our response to climate change and key ecosystem services such as food, flood management, pollination, clean air and water.

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

We have significant environmental challenges to address
We have a strong organisational commitment to carbon reduction and were the first local authority in Wales to declare a climate emergency, publish an action plan and report annually against progress made within the plan. Since 2016/17 to 2021/22 we have reduced our carbon emissions by nearly a third (-31.7%) (-8,418 tCO2e).

This is strong progress in the pathway to meeting our commitment to Welsh Government’s ambition for net zero Welsh public sector by 2030 | Legal commitment to achieve a net zero Wales by 2050. We are also committed to playing our part in achieving the wider public sector obligation to become net zero by 2050 and our progress in achieving significant reductions to date in our own emissions plays an important part in achieving that wider obligation.

We are proactively working with national government, public, private and third sectors to mitigate against the impacts of climate change through for instance the WLGA Climate Change Strategy Panel and in leading the commercial and industrial workstream of the regional and local energy action plans. While significant early progress has been made, innovative work to develop carbon trajectories has been developed this year which will assist us in targeting activity to meet the more challenging circa 60% residual carbon savings. In 2022, we became one of a few authorities to declare a nature emergency and convene a cross party climate change and nature advisory panel (CCNEAP) recognising the close relationship between the two areas of work. Work to deliver actions and report on the delivery of the Environment Act plan is progressing well, of the 38 actions, 26 are progressing well, and 12 have been completed and we are moving to review the content of the plan with the advice of the CCNEP, to reflect the declaration of the nature emergency.

We are making a difference to many communities with our flood risk analysis and business case developments works, we have a better understanding of risks in many communities. All new developments must have sustainable drainage which is managing flooding for both new developments and the surrounding community.

For progress and data on this thematic priority see pages 97-109 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?

Why this is important?

  • Carmarthenshire is a stronghold for the Welsh language and is considered to be of high strategic importance in its future. Bilingualism is beneficial to both the economy and individuals through cognitive and social benefits. We will work towards increasing the number of Welsh speakers and supporting the regular use of the language across all aspects of our daily lives.
  • Engaging in cultural activity has demonstrable positive impact on starting well, living well and ageing well. We want our future generations to be immersed in a strong, intriguing, wholly unique Carmarthenshire Culture, which reflects our past and shapes our future.

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

The 2021 Census results published in December 2022 saw a further decline in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire, down to 39.9% of the population, which is equivalent to 72,838 Welsh speakers. However, the Welsh Language County Strategi Forum is developing excellent co-operation approaches and has worked together to co-produce the new Welsh Language promotion Strategy. The Council is also developing its ethos and culture in terms of use of the Welsh language within the organisation and this will be further developed over the next few years.

For progress and data on this thematic priority see pages 110-116 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?

Why this is important?

  • Safety and a feeling of belonging are important to personal well-being.
  • More people now appreciate the value of kindness and being part of a community. Supporting cohesive communities and ensuring those from different backgrounds share positive relationships, feel safe in their neighbourhood, and have a sense of mutual respect and shared values is central to having active and thriving communities.
  • Community Resilience is also essential to enable communities to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations. When communities work together to support each other it builds a sense of pride and belonging which is key for social well-being

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

Despite a slight increase in crime rates, Carmarthenshire remains one of the safest places in the UK.
Partnership working with Dyfed Powys Police and other agencies remains strong and continues to develop as new issues arise.

For progress and data on this thematic priority see pages 117-121 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?

Why this is important?

  • Sport and leisure, culture and outdoor recreation are the heartbeat of our communities. These services provide a range of health and well-being activities, facilities, and programmes in order to support our residents and communities to lead healthy, safe and prosperous lives.
  • In a similar way the promotion of our County as an attractive and commercially viable place to visit and invest in is a key economic and well-being factor.
  • We will continue to develop these services in response to the need of our residents, businesses and visitors.

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

Leisure Attendance Almost Back to Pre-Covid Levels

Attendances have recovered across the year as more people are engaged in physical activity opportunities across the county, with figures almost back to pre-Covid levels. Our key challenges over the past 12 months have been around managing post pandemic participation and income recovery, along with the cost of living and energy price crises.

For progress and data on this service priority see pages 122-125 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?

Why this is important?

We recognise the importance to a shift towards a truly circular economy, where waste is eliminated, and resources are kept in use for as long as possible.

As well as being good for the environment, a fully circular economy could create employment.
In our county, more people recycle every day.

If recyclable items end up in landfill their value is lost forever.

Recycling also reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying, and logging), refining and processing raw (or ‘virgin’) materials, all of which create substantial air and water pollution. This helps to save energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to tackle climate change.

Whilst recycled materials are valuable commodities in the worldwide market and are financially important, recycling is good for the environment too. It makes best use of our limited natural resources. We need to remember how we act now will have an impact on future generations.

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

Recycling Change Brings Improved Performance

We undertake waste and recycling kerbside collections to 91,000 households with over 8.5m interactions per annum. During this year we made significant changes to our suite of waste services, implementing a move to weekly food and dry recycling, reducing the frequency of our residual waste collections and rolling out new separate kerbside glass and nappy recycling collections. Any change in waste service delivery is difficult and bring its own challenges, however, the strategic success of the service change has led to a significant improvement in our recycling performance, and we have exceeded the Welsh Government Statutory Recycling target with a performance of 65.25%.

For progress and data on this service priority see pages 126-130 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?

Why this is important?

  • The Transportation and Highway system role has never been more important than today when society continues to recover from worldwide events and addresses the key challenges of decarbonisation, inequality, developing housing and sustainable communities, education, health, well-being and the local economy.
  • Our highway and transportation networks underpin the economic prosperity of Carmarthenshire, facilitating access to employment and learning opportunities, social connections, health, leisure, active travel and delivering services that touch every home every day. Connectivity and accessibility are central to facilitating economic and social well-being and we will continue to develop and enhance our local infrastructure in order to support our communities.

Our Overall Self-Assessment:

Delivering key services & projects through strategic challenges

The aspiration for modal shift within the Wales Transport Strategy has influenced our investment in infrastructure particularly around our major population centres where we have built new infrastructure to support more sustainable travel journeys. The Division has continued to work through the strategic challenges influenced by macro influences that include the economy, resulting in reductions in income, both revenue and capital funding, the development of the Corporate Joint Committee with specific responsibility for transport planning, changes to the default speed limit in September 2023, the Wales Transport Strategy and climate change. The service has been proactive in delivering change however the constant reduction in resource levels, rising public expectation, supply chain pressures and deteriorating asset condition is leading to a difficult operating environment for services.

For progress and data on this service priority see pages 131-134 - how well are we doing (and how do we know)?